12/30/13, Unexpected Gifts and Guests

Hi Everyone,

Well the year is drawing to a close. It’s been a year of hard work, a lot of writing, a lot of travelling back and forth between the two cities/countries where I live, time with my kids whenever possible, and some lovely times with them, some wins, some losses, and some home runs. It’s been a challenging year for some who are happy to see the year end. And we all seem to work harder than we used to, in a much tougher economy. There is a seriousness to that, which none of us can ignore or avoid, the hard economic times touch us all. And on a personal level, my youngest son got engaged, so we’ll have a wedding in the family next year.

Christmas was hectic, but wonderful, and as I ponder it, I realize how many blessings came my way. As I said in an earlier blog, I feel lucky and blessed. I got home, I didn’t get snowed in or delayed along the way, not always a sure thing this time of year. I had Christmas gatherings with good friends in Paris, and San Francisco, which allowed me to see some friends I hadn’t seen all year, which is always fun. And I realize how lucky I was that all of my kids were with me on Christmas, which wasn’t the original plan. It’s not easy to get everyone together, and although my five youngest planned to be with me on Christmas, it’s more challenging for the three older ones, with in laws, their own plans, and families of their own. This year, all three of my older married children decided not to celebrate with us, which was disappointing for me, but understandable, and I made my peace with it. In years past, it was easier and everyone was here. Now it’s sometimes touch and go as to who can come, and I am very, very grateful to have as many of them with me as can make it. And I resigned myself to not having my three older children with us for the holidays. I tried not to be too disappointed, and tried to be philosophical about it and let it go. That left me with the younger 5 kids, and usually their boyfriends and girlfriends go home to their own families. But this year, all their significant others were able to join us, so our group grew. Then, I discovered that my son in law’s mother was able to join us too, which was a lot of fun. A few days before Christmas, two of the three missing older ones decided to change their plans and come, which was great news. And one of them announced that she was bringing her parents in law, more good news since I like them very much. The children’s father’s first wife joins us for Christmas every year and brings her terrific now 95 year old mother with her, who is a surrogate grandmother to my children. This year, she announced that she was bringing her best friend, another 95 year old lady, and they were the stars of the show. Both are in great shape, still beautiful, go out to parties all the time and travel, and have a busier social life than I do. So we had two very lively 95 year old women as part of the group for Christmas. And fifteen minutes before dinner, my oldest son called with a change of plans, and decided to come home for dinner too. So presto magic, our group of thirteen for dinner on Christmas night grew to 27. The age range at dinner was from 6 to 95. And it was an important lesson for me. I was willing to accept that not all of my children would be with us, and tried not to make an issue of it, and then unexpectedly, at the last minute, all of them came home, and I was so grateful to have Christmas with them, their spouses, significant others, in laws, and even a 95 year old friend. It was a big blessing for me, and a reminder that life sometimes gives you unexpected gifts, and abundance you didn’t even dare to hope for. It was a very happy Christmas as a result, we had dinner together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a good time hanging around in pajamas, crowded into the kitchen eating leftovers after opening gifts on Christmas Day. So it was a merry Christmas here this year. And like any family, there were a few crabby moments, the usual holiday tensions when people get tired and stressed, but on the whole, a good time was had by all, and the blessings of the season touched us all.

So my Christmas was bigger and fuller and busier than I expected it to be, which was the best gift of all for me. And I’m having the same kind of experience with New Year’s Eve. New Year just isn’t a holiday I love. It’s one of those nights when people work too hard at having fun, it can be dangerous to be on the roads so I don’t go out, and it’s one of those nights like musical chairs, when if you’re not part of a couple, you feel like the odd man out, and can wind up with no one you care about to spend it with, or no plans at all, and sit home feeling like a loser watching TV. (Valentine’s Day is one of those couple’s nights too, and I have mixed feelings about that too.) But New Year’s eve can be a real opportunity to feel sorry for yourself. When I was married and my kids were small, we used to serve the kids ginger ale and pretend it was midnight hours before it really was, and then my husband and I would go to bed and fall asleep watching movies on TV. Those were actually my best New Year’s Eves. After that, once divorced, I gave elaborate formal dinner dances on New Year’s Eve, and there was always some kind of drama or misery attached to it, not sure who my date would be at my own party. Married again, we gave some very fancy New Year’s Eve dinner parties in black tie, and they were fun. And once single again, and trying to avoid that left-out feeling again, I gave poker parties on New Year’s Eve, with fast food on the table, and that was a lot of fun. Not having a hot romance or date on New Year’s Eve, I could at least make ten dollars playing poker, and eat a hot dog or a cheeseburger. It took the edge off not having someone to kiss at midnight. And then I graduated down to small dinners with a few friends on New Year’s Eve. But whatever you do that night, it always seems like a lot of work, rarely lives up to expectations, and most of the time you wind up wishing you were doing something else. I’ve never had the courage, once single again, to do nothing and just go to bed and forget the evening entirely. I always felt as though I HAD to do something, and spend the evening with friends. Until this year. This year for the first time, I decided not to make the effort, and go to bed with my dogs, and watch movies on TV, the way I used to do long ago when I was married. And I don’t drink and never have, so there is no worry about toasting anyone with champagne at midnight. I don’t know why, but this year I decided to take a year off from the festivities and see how it would feel. And the friends I usually spend that evening with decided to do the same. I used to worry that doing nothing on New Year’s Eve would depress me, this year it sounded good to me. I didn’t have to figure out what to wear, put a good face on it because I had no ‘hot date’ to spend it with. It sounded okay to me to do nothing, and stay home on my own. And yesterday, I got another unexpected gift. Three of my children announced that they wanted to come home and have dinner with me that night, on New Year’s Eve, which is very generous of them, and sounded great to me. They’re in their 20’s, and I’m sure they can all find something more exciting to do on New Year’s Eve than spend the evening with me. But I am so grateful for the gift of their spending the evening with me. I can’t wait. We’re going to cook dinner together, and we’ll be at home together to see the New Year in. I can’t think of a better way to spend it, or anyone I’d rather spend it with!!! And it was yet another reminder to me that sometimes when you expect absolutely nothing, and resign yourself to less than you might have hoped for, life suddenly gives you a gift, and you end up having more fun than you expected, with people you love and get to spend time with after all. I expected to do absolutely nothing this year, and instead, spending it with three of my children, one son in law, and my son’s fiancee sounds like a terrific plan. I’m so grateful for this unexpected gift, and it’s such a loving thing for them to do, to spend the evening with me. The others will be busy with their own plans, in other cities, and their own friends and families, which is okay too. So for once, I am REALLY looking forward to New Year’s Eve. So I really lucked out for the holidays this year, unexpectedly!!!

However you spend New Year’s Eve, alone, with friends, with family, dressed up and out dancing, at home in jeans, with a hot date, someone you love, or maybe with people you wish you weren’t with—-I hope that your hopes and dreams and wishes for the new year all come true. I hope that you get to spend New Year’s Eve exactly as you would want to, and if not this year, then next year. I hope that the new year brings you health, prosperity, happiness, peace, love, hope. Remember that anything is possible, and I will cling to the belief for you, and for myself, that the best is yet to come. This coming year can be anything that you want it to be, and that you dream it will be. I wish you the very, very, very best new year ever, with so much love to you,


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8 Comments so far
  1. P.J December 31, 2013 9:43 am

    Absolutely delightful to read-put me in the best mood- thanks and Happy New Year!

  2. Moser December 31, 2013 10:09 am

    Bonne et Heureuse Année 2014
    Merci Danielle.
    M-A. CH

  3. Adriana December 31, 2013 3:31 pm


    <3 🙂

  4. Manfred (Schuelein) Schmitt January 1, 2014 4:01 pm

    Greetings from Toronto

    I have several paintings by Georg Schuelein and
    wonder if you would be interested in seeing them ?

    Best wishes for health and happiness in 2014

  5. Kim January 2, 2014 9:28 am

    Happy New Year, Danielle! It sounds like you tucked 2013 in properly, and greeted 2014 in the most loveliest of ways, with family. And, congrats on your France’s Legion d’honneur award!

  6. Susan Weigel January 2, 2014 10:49 pm

    Love and Peace to you also in the coming New Year!

  7. Lorraine January 10, 2014 7:35 pm

    LOVED this story!! It’s truly incredible how things can work out at times, when least expected!

  8. CAROL J.KNAPP January 20, 2014 4:21 pm

    What a gresat letter.great to hear from you,WISH YOU WELL.


    WISCONSIN 6:23 PM JANUARY 20,2014